The fourth day of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Summer School programme continued with lectures on undercover operations and research, as well as tips for following paper trails in stories.
Former FBI undercover operative Stephen Salmieri told the journalists participating in the Summer School that undercover investigative work is extremely dangerous, which is why it should be used as sparingly and requires a lot of preparation.
In order to minimise security risks, Salmieri said that journalists working undercover should not change their personality. He also said that journalists should know their targets and research their sources, as well as keep in constant contact with their parent organisation.
"When doing investigations, know everything you can know your enemy. Let go of your ego and reduce tensions. If you come across as aggressive, the situation will quickly escalate," said Salmieri.
A perfect undercover agent, according to Salmieri, is a smart and aware person who listens carefully.
Two times Pulitzer Prize winner Eric Nalder gave the participants of the Summer School tips on how to gather material evidence and documents from companies and organisations. He emphasised the importance of physically going to organisations, carefully interviewing workers and using psychological tricks to control the communication with them.
Nalder also said that after gathering documents, journalists should organise them carefully.
“Always be organised. Use Excel or other spreadsheets to organise your documents, otherwise you might get lost in them,” said Nalder.
British journalist David Leigh also discussed the need to collect documents, but also highlighted that while writing the story, journalists should make sure to provide readers with several points of access.
“Provide photos, interviews, galleries and short clips. Presentation is key. Your story is useless if it does not reach the public,” said Leigh.
The BIRN Summer School is taking place this week in Slovenia with 30 journalists from Serbia, Slovenia, Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Bulgaria, Austria, Estonia, France and Romania participating. It will finish on Friday.
The BIRN Summer School of Investigative Reporting 2013 is organised in cooperation with the Media Program South East Europe of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and with the support of the King Baudouin Foundation, the Belgian National Lottery, the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, the OSCE Mission to Serbia and USAID in Macedonia.
The UK riots, legal leaks, how to protect sources and tracking money abroad were all explored in the second day of BIRN’s summer school.
The fifth BIRN summer school of investigative journalism has opened in the Montenegrin coastal town of Becici, bringing together top trainers and journalists.
BIRN Macedonia, together with Centre for Investigative journalism - SCOOP Macedonia and the Centre for Civil Communications launched the fifth call for investigative stories on August 25th.
The pro-government tabloid ‘Informer’ has published a series of allegations about the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, following its investigation into a secret government contract with the UAE’s Etihad Airways.
Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic promised to publish the text of a previously confidential deal between Serbia and United Arab Emirates airline company Etihad Airways on Friday, a day after BIRN Serbia published an article revealing the content of the agreements that appear unfavourable for the country.
The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania launched an open call on Wednesday for media monitoring experts for a study on how corruption is reported by local media outlets.
In its first 100 days, the Serbian government has only fulfilled a handful of the tasks it set itself when taking office, a new report by BIRN shows.
The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) in Kosovo published its sixth report on court monitoring for the January-December 2013 period.
BIRN’s hard-hitting series of investigations into energy deals in Albania has generated widespread interest in the country.
BIRN Macedonia in partnership with the Center for Civil Communication has concluded a series of ten workshops aimed at boosting cooperation between journalists and the NGO sector.